Tooth decay in children is preventable with routine dental examinations. Building a child’s healthy oral health habits begins with their parents inculcating good dental hygiene habits and regularly bringing them to a family or paediatric dentist.
Establishing a positive relationship with your paediatrically-trained dentist is essential for your child’s long-term oral health.
Tooth decay is one of the most common health problems worldwide. Dental decay is currently the most frequent ailment in youngsters, and 90% of hospital tooth extractions are children under 5 years old. Tooth decay in kids is a preventable common dental health issue in children managed with proper diagnoses and treatment, but prevention is always the best measure.
What Causes Tooth Decay in Children and Some of the Symptoms
Tooth decay happens because dental plaque converts carbohydrates stuck on the teeth into acid. Increased plaque levels can lead to cavities and gum disease as holes develop in the tooth’s outer layers.
Cavities are permanently damaged areas on the hard surface of the teeth that develop into tiny openings or holes. Cavities are caused by several reasons, including bacteria, frequent snacking, drinking sugary drinks, and most importantly, inadequate or irregular tooth cleaning. Brushing regularly may not be enough if your child’s brushing technique is not proper.
Sometimes decay is free from any visible or physical symptom; however, your dentist can easily identify issues during a routine examination. If decay is already visible in the mouth, as with kids with black teeth, or if your child is experiencing pain, then the decay has likely reached deeper levels. You should make an appointment with your dentist immediately in these cases.
What Age Should I Bring My Child in for Their First Dental Examination?
All children are at risk for tooth decay and early childhood caries, so bringing your kid to the dentist when they are around 6-8 months of age is essential.
Most babies have developed two bottom front teeth at that age, and the four upper front teeth will develop next. The rest of your baby’s teeth will appear in pairs along the sides of the jaw. At around 2.5 to 3 years of age, all twenty teeth should have formed and set in your toddler’s mouth. The first permanent teeth will appear between the ages of 5 and 6.
It is vital to bring your child to the dentist early, even though it may seem odd with your child having so few teeth. Research has found that for each year the child’s first dental appointment is postponed, the chances of them experiencing tooth decay doubles. Kids with rotten teeth are at risk of pain and dental infections if left untreated.
When your child’s first tooth appears at around 6 months old, schedule the initial dental visit with a paediatric or family dentist. Your dentist will inspect your child’s mouth to ensure their teeth are developing healthily and handle any early signs of tooth decay in a toddler’s front teeth. Don’t be concerned if some teeth come in a few months early or late because every child is different. Some permanent teeth do not replace baby teeth, whereas others do.
Importance of Early Diagnosis for Childhood Tooth Decay
Pediatric dentistry has two main components: preventative care at the dental practice and prevention at home. It deals with preventing and treating dental problems in infants, toddlers, and children up to the age of 18.
Good dental oral care is essential to prevent infant and toddler tooth decay. Your paediatric dentist will also guide you on how to care for your child’s teeth at home. These dental tips include brushing, flossing, and dietary advice. Working with your dentist can help keep your child’s teeth healthy, prevent tooth decay, and establish life-long oral hygiene habits.
Family and paediatric dentists are also experienced in making your child’s first dental visit a positive experience to reduce any traumatic experiences at a young age. An unpleasant early encounter with the dentist can make getting your child to return challenging.
At TEETH @ Tiong Bahru, our pediatrically trained dentists understand that kids and adults have different dental care needs and proper treatment recommendations for children with tooth decay in Singapore. Our children’s dentists are highly skilled and experienced in working with children. Our kid-friendly dental clinic ensures every appointment is a positive experience for your child, whether coming in for a routine examination, cleaning, extraction, or orthodontic treatment.
How Serious Is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Even if your child’s “milk teeth” are merely temporary, they are still vulnerable to caries. Early childhood caries, often known as “baby bottle tooth decay”, describe the unfortunate condition of tooth decay in children. It usually affects the top front teeth, where the baby latches onto the baby bottle nozzle, but it can also affect other teeth.
Even if adult teeth eventually displace the temporary teeth, the baby teeth remain vulnerable to cavities and decay. It is essential to maintain healthy baby teeth as that helps permanent teeth emerge correctly and avoids potential infections.
Numerous external factors contribute to tooth decay. One typical cause is exposing your baby’s teeth to sugary drinks daily, putting your baby to bed with a bottle overnight, or unknowingly passing caries-causing bacteria from your mouth to your newborn’s.
The good news is that baby bottle tooth decay treatment is available from TEETH @ Tiong Bahru, including fluoride treatments for tooth decay.
Why Is Early Childhood Oral Hygiene Important
Preventing a tooth decay epidemic requires a proactive, holistic, and national approach to promoting oral health.
Oral health broadly impacts children’s overall well-being, confidence, and mental well-being. It’s critical to recognize how significant an improvement in a child’s dental health can be for the rest of their daily life. A child’s smile is an essential aspect of self-esteem, and studies correlate a smile to positive endorphins that boost confidence.
Oral health can affect how well children perform at school. According to Public Health England, 26 per cent of children who underwent a tooth extraction missed an average of 3 to 15 days at school due to oral pain, infection, and sleep deprivation.
We also know that oral health problems in childhood can have long-term consequences. Children with high levels of disease in their primary teeth are more likely to develop the disease in their permanent teeth. More so, if a child’s first visit to the dentist is frightening or a painful experience, such as when they get a tooth extraction as their first dental care, they may be hesitant to return. The lack of consistent checkups may result in oral health concerns later in life not being detected until it is too late.
If you are looking for strategies on how to stop tooth decay in children, prevention through early childhood oral health is essential.
5 Simple Tips for Parents to Help Prevent Tooth Decay in Kids
Regular dental cleanings and check-ups are helpful as a part of treatment for children’s cavities, as they prevent plaque and tartar build-up on the teeth and gum disease.
Beyond prevention techniques, tooth decay treatment options for a child may include placing fissure sealants on their teeth. On the exterior surfaces of the molars, this substance provides a protective barrier to prevent acid-producing bacteria from settling into the teeth’s microscopic fissures and grooves.
If you’re looking for ways how to stop children’s teeth rotting, here are five things you can do to keep your child’s teeth healthy:
- Healthy Diet Healthy, well-balanced meals should be provided by parents to their children. Continuous snacking should be discouraged, and sugary diets should be reduced. After each helping of food, oral bacteria consume residual sugar particles in the child’s mouth, releasing toxic acids that destroy tooth enamel, gum tissue, and bone. When feasible, space snacks out. Also, offer the child non-sugary options such as celery sticks, carrot sticks, and low-sugar yoghurt.
- Oral Hygiene Though pacifier and thumb sucking habits usually fade with time, both might cause tooth misalignment. If your child needs to use a pacifier, choose one that is orthodontically proper. This will reduce the likelihood of developmental issues such as narrow roof arches and crowding. Children’s thumb-sucking can be stopped with the help of a paediatric dentist’s advice or a dental appliance.
- General Oral Hygiene: The cleaning process of pacifiers and teething toys can, unfortunately, lead to the transmission of hazardous oral bacteria. This may increase the risk of early cavities and tooth decay in children’s molars and other teeth. Rinse toys and pacifiers with warm water instead, and avoid sharing spoons whenever feasible.
- Sippy Cup Use: Sippy cups are suitable when transitioning from a baby bottle to an adult drinking glass. However, sippy cups loaded with breast milk, soda, juice, and sweetened water can lead to small amounts of sugar constantly swirling around an infant’s teeth. The acid from this sugar will attack the dental enamel. Sippy cup use should be discontinued between 12 and 14 months or as soon as the child can grasp a drinking glass.
- Brushing Teeth: Brushing children’s teeth twice a day with a soft brush and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste is recommended. Parents should assist their children until age seven. Always use ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste (non-fluoridated before age two). Rub the gum line with a clean cloth after each meal.
How Will Our Dentist Treat Tooth Decay and Early Childhood Caries in Kids?
Get a proper diagnosis before starting any treatment on your child’s teeth. The dentist will assess how deep the decay is and which option would be best in terms of cost and side effects. Our dental team will provide you with all the information you should know before making a decision on the treatment plan.
- Tooth & Dental Cleaning Our dentists conduct painless, stress-free, professional cleaning for your child or recommend fluoride varnish gel on teeth surfaces.
- Fluoride Varnish Fluoride varnish therapy is a safe and effective way to reduce decay. As some children are more susceptible to tooth decay, your child’s dentist will determine whether fluoride varnish is required and how often to apply the treatment. Fluoride varnish will give your child extra protection against tooth decay and is simple to apply, painless, quickly sets, and has a good flavour and odour.
- Fissure Sealant: The back teeth’s pits and grooves trap food and germs, leading to tooth disease, or caries, if not addressed. Protective layers of fissure sealants are applied in these deep grooves and fissures to help prevent dental decay. This procedure is simple, painless, and rapid. The dentist will clean the teeth first, then prepare them with a particular solution before applying a thin coating of sealant material in the deep crevices and curing it using a blue light. These sealants can last long, but they may need to be replaced or topped up regularly to ensure their effectiveness.
- Dental Fillings: Composite resin materials are used in most dental fillings nowadays. Dentists utilise white or tooth-coloured fillings in both children and adults. Amalgam (silver) fillings may be available at other clinics but are not used at TEETH @ Tiong Bahru. Fillings replace the missing enamel and dentine in the teeth. The dentist must first clean the affected tooth before inserting the filler. The dentist applies a numbing medication to the treatment area to lessen discomfort. Our dentist will converse with your child throughout the procedure to keep them at ease.
- Extraction: If the cavity is extremely severe, the tooth may need to be extracted. Since the decay can spread to neighbouring teeth, they are also in danger. That’s why you should consult a pediatric or children’s dentist as soon as you see signs of tooth decay.
While “baby teeth” are only temporary, they require special attention. When they fall out or are taken out too soon, it can damage your child’s oral development.
Why Should You Take your Child to a Dentist?
Dental problems in children can often go unnoticed and untreated, leading to more serious issues as the child ages. Parents are often unsure if they should take their children to a traditional or paediatric dentist in Singapore.
A visit to the paediatric or child-friendly dentist is a great way to ensure that your child’s teeth are healthy and that any potential dental problems are addressed early on.
Tooth deterioration and discoloration of toddlers’ front teeth commonly go hand in hand. In their early stages, dental cavities appear as white patches lighter in colour than the rest of the tooth. Children, from toddlers to teenagers, may also complain of pain after consuming anything sweet, hot, or cold. The discoloration is a signal that the enamel is deteriorating.
When bacteria grow in the mouth, they produce acid that starts to dissolve the teeth’ outermost layer, leading to tooth decay in kids. The dental caries discolouration signals the start of decay. These are early indicators that it’s time to visit your dentist.
Make sure to schedule an appointment with us at TEETH @ Tiong Bahru for comprehensive dental care for you and your children!